July 2, 2010 in Business

Business in brief: Free downtown Wi-Fi returning

The Spokesman-Review
 

Two Liberty Lake companies and the city of Spokane will collaborate to revive the Spokane HotZone, a 100-square-block area in the downtown core that provides free Wi-Fi.

Ptera Wireless and TierPoint, both based in Liberty Lake, have agreed to revive the service, which has been plagued by hardware failures and sporadic disruptions.

Launched in 2004, the HotZone’s organizers said it would be a deal-making service that would boost economic development in the heart of the city.

Demand for free Wi-Fi, while not as large as first anticipated, still exists, Ptera CEO Jim Wilson noted in a news release. The goal of upgrading the HotZone will be to provide two hours of free service for users, the release said.

It will also enhance community events such as Bloomsday and Hoopfest, as well as the Spokane University District, Wilson said.

Ptera will provide the wireless network and hardware; TierPoint will provide the Internet connectivity.

Tom Sowa

Nonprofit to get free broadband

Spokane network service provider Integra Telecom will donate a free year of T1 broadband connectivity to a Spokane-area nonprofit.

Nominations of worthy recipients are being accepted at the Integra Telecom website and can also be made in person at the company’s new Spokane office at 201 N. River Drive, downtown.

The value of the year’s service is about $6,000, according to an Integra Telecom spokeswoman.

Nominated nonprofits will qualify if their missions match the contest’s three themes: building community, promoting wellness or providing youth services.

The deadline for nominations is July 16. From the pool of eligible nonprofits, 10 will be selected. On July 27 one will be drawn at random.

Tom Sowa

Feds profit selling bailout stock

WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department said Thursday it has raised $10.5 billion from the sale of a total of 2.6 billion shares of Citigroup stock it received as part of the government’s rescue of the bank.

The government sold the shares at a profit as it seeks to recoup the costs of the $700 billion financial bailout in 2008.

The Treasury says the latest sale of 1.1 billion shares, which figures into the total, completes its second phase of selling operations.

In the latest Citigroup sale, the stock sold for an average price per sale of around $4.03, the Treasury said. That would represent a profit form the $3.25 price the Treasury paid to obtain the shares.

The government still owns 5.1 billion shares of Citigroup stock and expects to continue selling shares at a future date.

Associated Press

Briefcase

From wire reports

• Medicare administrators say they will take a full year to review Dendreon Corp.’s prostate cancer therapy Provenge and decide whether to cover the costly treatment. Provenge, which costs $93,000 for a course of treatment, has been widely expected to bring Dendreon billions in revenue in the coming years. But sales will be slashed if Medicare decides not to cover the cost or offers only limited coverage.

• Google Inc. plans to buy travel technology company ITA Software Inc. in a $700 million deal that would enable the Internet search leader to steer more of the airline reservations booked on the Web.

• Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for 30-year fixed loans sank to 4.58 percent this week, the lowest on records dating to 1971. That’s down from the previous record of 4.69 percent set last week.

• The board of Yahoo Inc. has approved plans to repurchase up to $3 billion in stock over the next three years.

• Market researcher NPD Group says U.S. retail sales of video games dropped to $823.5 million in May, down 5 percent from a year earlier. NPD says hardware sales plunged 20 percent to $241.5 million in May. The lower pricing of gaming consoles was a big reason for the decline. Software sales rose 4 percent, to $466.3 million.

• Starbucks Corp. has instituted a free, unlimited Wi-Fi Internet policy for patrons at its nearly 6,800 company-operated stores in the U.S., plus 750 locations in Canada. Some competitors beat Starbucks to it. Six months ago, McDonald’s Corp. announced that it would offer free Wi-Fi at about 11,500 U.S. locations.

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